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Carlton County Board asks Legislature for $22.5M

Carlton County board members approved the request from staff to submit a request to the legislature for more bonding funds for the proposed justice center.

FILE: Carlton County Transportation
The Carlton County Transportation Building.
Izabel Johnson / 2021 file / Pine Journal
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CARLTON — With the upcoming Minnesota legislative session happening during a bonding year, Carlton County officials are looking to secure more funding for the proposed justice center.

At their Tuesday, Feb. 8 meeting, the Carlton County Board of Commissioners approved a proposal to request $22.5 million in bonding funds from the state for the project.

Two of the main items brought up by the board were improving roads and broadband access throughout the county. The county has about $7 million in ARPA funding to spend.

According to the proposal, the county would match the funds provided by the state for the $70 million project.

Mary Finnegan, the county's economic development director, told the board officials always planned to go back to the Legislature for more funds.

"The ask for the female offender program may not be high enough, and we may be limiting ourselves to a lower amount," she said. "We decided we would go in and identify how much the court system is costing to add to the judicial center and include those costs in with our ask."


The county has already received $2 million in state funds for planning for the female offender program, which is included in the justice center.

The addition funding officials are seeking would not only be used to develop the female offender program, but also for the courtrooms, jail and probation offices.

Finnegan said she has already reached out to state Rep. Mike Sundin, DFL-Esko, and state Sen. Jason Rarick, R-Pine City, who have said they will be the primary authors of a bill.

The City of Carlton voted Oct. 13 to approve the annexation of land in the Twin Lakes Township to be used for the site of the new Carlton County justice Center.

Carlton County officials are not the only ones seeking funding from the Legislature for projects this year, Finnegan said. Martin and Dakota counties have submitted proposals, and she expects more to come.

Other counties applying for similar funds could bode well for Carlton County, as Finnegan said it will show lawmakers that state funding is needed for these types of projects.

"Because it is a bonding year and knowing that other counties are asking for money for judicial centers, we wanted to make sure we didn't limit ourselves," she said.

Commissioners also intend to try and speak with their representatives and those on the state's bonding committee about the funds.

In other business, the board approved a change to the zoning ordinance, which will now require vacation rental property owners to have a valid vacation rental permit. The permit would last for three years and cost applicants $150.


Heather Cunningham, zoning and environmental services administrator, said the proposed fee was received well in planning commission meetings by those who attended.

Commissioner Mark Thell said he appreciated all the hard work that has been done on the issue.

"Seemed like it flowed well for the new change," he said.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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